How to back up your iPhone to iCloud

Your iPhone has become the first thing you see in the morning, and the last thing you look at at night. It’s where all of your irreplaceable photos are. It’s where you write down genius ideas during meetings. In other words, you use your phone for everything.

So what would happen if you lost or broke your iPhone? Sure, you would just get a new one, but would you have everything backed up somewhere so you could quickly restore your data?

Don’t worry. Keep reading, and we’ll go over the best way to back up your iPhone with iCloud, what that backup does and doesn’t include, as well as any gotchas to keep an eye out for.


What is an iCloud backup and what does it include?

An iCloud backup is a little different than just syncing with iCloud. Think of a backup as a snapshot of your entire phone, capturing all of your data and settings. And the great thing about iCloud is that it automatically backs up your iPhone once a day, when the device connected to Wi-Fi and power, and its screen is locked.

This is what gets backed up to iCloud:

  • App data
  • Settings
  • Photos from Camera Roll
  • iMessages

However, iCloud does not backup things that you can easily redownload in an effort to save space and time. So it doesn’t back up things like:

  • Apps
  • Movies
  • TV shows
  • Music

How can I make my iCloud backup faster?

iCloud backups can take a considerable amount of time, especially the first time. The upside is that iCloud backups are iterative, meaning that after the first one it’s only backing up what has changed since the last time.

The two biggest factors influencing are your Internet connection and the amount of your data.

And while you can’t always influence your Internet speed, you can definitely slim down the data you’re backing up.

Cleaning up your photo library can help make your iCloud backup faster, because the more photos you have, the larger and slower your backup is. You can use an app like Gemini Photos to find and remove similar photos, screenshots you don’t need anymore, and other photo clutter that’s taking up space on your phone and in your backup.

Run a Gemini Photos cleanup to make your iCloud backup faster

How to back up an iPhone to iCloud

Setting up iCloud Backup on your iPhone couldn’t be any easier. The first thing you should do is make sure you’re signed into your iCloud account, and then:

  1. Plug your phone into a power source and connect to a Wi-Fi network.
  2. Go to Settings > iCloud Account Name > iCloud > iCloud Backup.
  3. Toggle the iCloud Backup switch on.
How to do iCloud backup on iPhone

The first time you back up, it may be best to let your phone charge overnight. That way it will have plenty of time to complete the entire backup.


How to do iCloud backup manually

While iCloud backups were designed to work automatically, you can still initiate one manually if you’d like.

Here’s how to back up your iPhone to iCloud manually:

  1. Plug your iPhone into a power source and connect to a Wi-Fi network.
  2. Go to Settings > iCloud Account Name > iCloud > iCloud Backup.
  3. Tap Backup Now.

Leave your iPhone to complete the backup. It should be locked until iCloud is done.


Why is my iPhone not backing up to iCloud?

When it comes to backing up your iPhone to iCloud, one of the most common assumptions is that your phone does it automatically. Well, unfortunately, just because you’ve logged in to iCloud on your iPhone, it doesn’t mean the backups are automatically on.  

Two factors could contribute to why your phone is not automatically backing up:

iCloud Backup is not configured

iCloud has to be configured to automatically back up your phone in Settings > Account Name > iCloud > iCloud Backup.

Once iCloud Backup is set up, it will automatically start whenever your iPhone is connected to a Wi-Fi network, plugged into power, and locked. Which, unfortunately, means you can’t use your phone while it’s backing up.

Not enough iCloud storage

iCloud only gives you 5 GB of free cloud storage, so unless you’re paying for extra storage, than there’s a good chance you’ve maxed out your space already. You might want to check out what else you have syncing to iCloud.

Things like your photo library could be eating up a majority of that 5 GB, and you won’t even realize it. If your photos are taking up most of your iCloud space, then you’ll want to try using an app like Gemini Photos to help you trim some weight off your photo library. And for more ways to make room in iCloud, check out our article iCloud Storage Full: How to free up space in iCloud

If you’re still having issues backing up after you switch on the automatic backup setting,  here are some more potential reasons why iCloud Backup is not working:

  • You’ve signed out of your iCloud account on iPhone
  • The Wi-Fi/network connection is poor
  • Your iPhone is not plugged into power
  • Your iPhone is not locked for a long enough time

iCloud backups are super easy to set up and use — and can be major lifesavers! As dependent as we all are on our iPhones, it’s ridiculous not to have a backup of iPhone data, and iCloud does that seamlessly and conveniently.

Gemini Photos
Need more space in iCloud?

Do a photo cleanup with Gemini Photos